Thursday, February 28, 2013


Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins [Hard Case; $9.95]
is the third and - for now - final book in his Jack & Maggie Starr
series.  Maggie is the president of the Starr Newspaper Syndication
Company, having inherited 75% of the company from her late husband
- the Major - who, besides syndicating comic strips and features to
newspapers around the world - was instrumental in the birthing of
the American comic book industry.  She’s a former burlesque queen
and still so beautiful she can turn heads clear around.  But she’s
also a sharp businessperson.

Jack is the Major’s son from a previous marriage.  He’s the vice-
president of the company and its special investigator, skilled at
getting the company’s artists and writers out of tough jams.  His
father only left him 25% of the company because Jack was more than
a little wild in his youth and adulthood.  He’s a handsome, smart,
tough guy with a love for the comics and women, not necessarily in
that order.

A Killing in Comics (2007) was a fictionalized murder mystery based
on the Superman ownership dispute. Strip for Murder (2008) had its
origins in the Al Capp/Ham Fisher feud.  Both of these books were
great fun and made even more so by their Terry Beatty illustrations.
I recommend them highly.

Seduction of the Innocent, as you probably guessed from the title,
is based on the war against comics launched by Dr. Fredric Wertham
and others.  In this book, Wertham is murdered by a method found in
one of the very comic books he’s attacked.  But who did the deed?
There is no shortage of suspects, including fictional versions of
EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines, crime comics legends Charles Biro
and Bob Wood and rival anti-comics crusader Gershon Legman, just to
name a few.  With his usual skill - incredible skill it would be if
he were a lesser writer - Collins weaves a terrific tale of crime
and passion. It’s the kind of book that keeps me turning the pages
until I get to the big payoff and, in this case, it’s a satisfying
ending to the dire doings.

With a cool Glen Orbik cover painting and those great illustrations
by Terry Beatty, Seduction of the Innocent has but one major flaw.
It might be the last book in the Jack and Maggie Starr series...and
that would be a crime in itself.

Come on, Al, don’t end it here.  What about those high crimes and
misdemeanors that were always part of magazine distribution?  Could
it have been something more serious than bad judgment and luck that
reduced Martin Goodman’s comic-book fortunes? Did any of the folks
who lost their jobs in the Atlas Implosion turn to crime when they
couldn’t get comic-book work anymore? What was really behind Jack
Kirby’s being blacklisted at DC after his fall-out with one of the
editors over a newspaper strip?  What if the mob had taken a more
characteristic management approach when it bought DC Comics? What
happened to the writers who tried to get medical benefits from DC?
Were mob strikebreakers involved? What if a disgruntled artist had
thrown an editor out a window...or simply been framed for the act
after threatening the editor?  You know the comic-book legends as
well as I do.  There must have been some stone killers among them.
Just...write...more...Jack & Maggie Starr...novels.  I’m asking you
nice.  This time.  After all, I do have some Sicilian blood mixed
with my otherwise pure Italian lineage and, remember, I’ve already
killed you once.

Seduction of the Innocent - and the other Jack and Maggie Starr
novels - are must-reads for fans of comics history and hard-boiled
murder mysteries.  You should buy them.  Now.

ISBN 9780857687487


Edited and designed by Craig Yoe, Comics About Cartoonists: Stories
About the World’s Oddest Profession
[IDW; $39.99] collects over 200
pages of comics featuring cartoonists as heroes, villains, madmen
and comics foils.  Among the reprinted works are stories by comics
legends like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner,
and many more.  Yoe must really like Eisner as the Spirit creator’s
name appears twice in the cover roll call.  I kid because anyone’s
who’s ever put together a book will certainly sympathize with the
error that gets overlooked and which you then spot as soon as your
copies of the book arrive. 

The stories are a mixed bag, but there are gems here, including a
number of which I had never preciously heard.  If I had to choose
my favorites, they would be:

“Artist Loves Model” (Jack Kirby)
G.I. Joe: Beautiful Benny of Company B (Ernie Schroeder)
Pen Miller (Klaus Nordling)
Suzie (attributed to Harry Sahle)
Sergeant Spook (George Kapitan and John Jordan)
The Spirit (Will Eisner)
Comic Valentine (drawn by Ogden Whitney and most likely written by
ACG editor Richard E. Hughes)
My World (Al Feldstein and Wally Wood)

This book delivered much amusement and entertainment and, since it
barely scratches the surface of comic-book stories with this self-
reflecting theme, I’m hoping it sells well enough for IDW and Yoe
to consider a sequel.

ISBN 978-1613773468


I love cheesy monster movies.  I love cheesy giant monster movies
best of all, but I can downsize my affection to include beasts of
lesser stature as well.  These movies take me back to my Cleveland
youth and the grainy movies hosted by Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson on
Channel 8.  The cheese remains strong within me.

My latest venture into cheese was Dino Wolf, aka Dire Wolf, a 2009
film by Fred Olen Ray who has directed, produced and written many
science fiction and horror movies and a great many movies with the
word “bikini” in their titles.  He’s best and maybe only known for
low-budget movies and this movie clearly falls into that category.

The basic plot of this movie is not blindingly original.  There’s
a government program to develop a super-soldier of sorts and, for
some silly reason, breeding a prehistoric wolf and human hybrid is
their method of choice.  Mind you, they don’t expect the creature
to be able to survive outside its man-size unguarded cooler, but,
hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

While the monster’s body count rose and the uncensored director’s
cut showed me lots of bloody entrails and such, I noticed that the
acting and writing weren’t all bad for a cheesy monster movie.  The
first two victims - a lab assistant and a security guard - were on
screen long enough for me to like them.  That was the case with a
number of other characters as well.  One character’s - and here is
a SPOILER WARNING - suffered from Obsessive Compulsion
Disorder and that played a role in his demise. 

The only actors you might recognize are Maxwell Caulfield and Gil
Gerard.  Caulfield, doomed to forever seek redemption for Grease 2,
carries his role as town sheriff well.  Gerard, playing your basic
immoral military-type, doesn’t carry his role well.  Which I think
is a shame because he’s a better actor than this.

I neither recommend or caution against seeing Dino Wolf.  It ain’t
a bad way for a cheesy monster movie fan like me to kill a couple
hours.  Besides, I got it through the library, so it didn’t cost me
a dime to watch it.  I’m good with it.

Sitting on my cheese tray waiting to be watched are Attack of the
Octopus People, Monster from Bikini Beach
and Snow Shark.
Believe it or not, this is not a cry for help.  I expect to have fun with
all three of those movies.  One way or another.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title.  Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.

The Rawhide Kid #49 [December 1965] is another first of the title.
It’s the first half of a two-issue continued story as the Kid goes
up against the Masquerader.  The Grand Comics Database identifies
writer/artist Larry Lieber as the pencil artist of the cover with
inks possibly by Carl Hubbell or Lieber himself.  I think the GCD
is at least partially correct on this. 

The cover’s three background images are all taken from the story,
which was inked by and credited to Hubbell.  As for that dramatic
figure of Rawhide charging at the readers with guns drawn, I can’t
be sure if Lieber inked the figure as well - it’s a possibility -
or if there’s another artistic hand on the inks.  I want to suggest
Sol Brodsky, but that’s more a hunch than even an informed guess.
Anyone want to posit another inker?

“The Menacing Masquerader!” (17 pages) opens with a quick rundown
caption citing the foes the Rawhide Kid has bested in recent issues
and has a symbolic splash of the Kid facing the title villain with
some of the Masquerader’s disguises swirling around said faceless
villain.  It’s an effective come-on to the story.

From there we go to the Masquerader’s clandestine meeting with his
new employer, the powerful Fats Larson.  That wealthy varmint owns
most of the territory and wants it all.  He’s hired the mysterious
gunslinger to frighten those who have refused to sell to him.  In
two mostly shadowy pages, we learn Fats’ plan and the Masquerader’s
modus operandi:

I sit in darkness to conceal myself...for I allow no man to see my
true face! Not even you! 

It is by hiding my features - by remaining a man of mystery - that
I have reached the top of my perilous profession! For what foe is
as fearsome and dangerous... a gunfighter who cannot be recognized!!?   
The story cuts to a scene we’ve seen many times. The Rawhide Kid’s
quietly entering a saloon hoping to get a meal before someone spots
and recognizes him.  Alas, as we’ve also seen many times, the local
bully decides the short-of-stature young man will be an easy target
for his amusement.  The bully soon learns the error of his ways and
the brief altercation ends with the bully’s face making spectacular
contact with the sturdy bar.

The Kid is recognized, but, this time, it’s by an old friend from
his boyhood home. Packrat Pete, a typical “old codger” has struck
gold.  Naturally, Fats Larson wants his gold mine, but Pete ain’t
selling. Enter the Masquerader in his disguise as clothing salesman
Abner J. Throtmorton.  Lieber loved coming up with names like that,
something I learned from him first hand while I was working in the
Marvel Bullpen back in the day.

“Abner” convinces Pete that the prospector needs clothing worthy of
his high station in life.  He lures him into an alley and a quick
gunfight.  Pete is gunned down, but survives.  The Masquerade makes
a quick disguise switch and walks right by the townspeople running
to the alley.  However, the arrogant Masquerader leaves a business
card for Rawhide to find.  His reasoning:

Now that I’ve let the Kid know who he’s up against, I don’t think
he’ll trouble me further! 

After all, the young squirt must realize that he doesn’t stand a
chance against a foe with a thousand faces! An unknown enemy who
can assume any identity by a careful arrangement of false features
and different costumes!

How can anyone hope to overcome an adversary who appears totally
harmless...until the sudden moment when he choose to strike!?

The Masquerader continues his work with other landowners who refused
to sell to Larson.  The townspeople turn to the Rawhide Kid to help
them in their time of need.  The Kid comes up with a plan to catch
his wily foe.

Packrat Pete sends word to Larson that he’s now willing to sell his
gold mine.  Suspecting a trap, Larson decides to send Masquerader
in his place.  The master of disguise poses as the Mexican “Manuel”
to talk to Pete, but the prospector refuses to do business with an
underling.  Tensions escalate and Pete reveals that he knows Manuel
is the Masquerader.  Once again, it’s time for a gunfight.  Except,
this time, Pete outdraws and outshoots the Masquerader with ease.
Because “Pete” is really the Rawhide Kid!

The Kid orders the Masquerader to remove his disguise so he can see
his real face.  But the gunman has a derringer concealed in his hat
and manages to graze Rawhide, rendering our hero unconscious.  One
stick of dynamite and a cave-in later, our hero is trapped in the
mine with precious little air to spare.

The Kid finds a small hole and risks building a small fire so that
he can send out smoke signals.  The townspeople see the smoke and
free Rawhide from the mine.  The angry young man is determined to
put an end to the “polecat” who tried to kill him and rides to the
home of Fats Larson.

The Masquerader has disguised himself as an old butler.  He sneaks
up on Rawhide while the Kid is questioning Larson rather severely,
but the gunhawk can’t resist boasting that he has the drop on the
Kid.  Rawhide ducks as the Masquerader fires and Larson gets shot.

Rawhide wings the Masquerader, but then turns his attention to the
dying Larson in the hopes of saving Larson.  The Masquerader makes
his escape while the Kid’s attention if focused elsewhere:

The Masquerader! He’s gone!! He must’ve high-tailed it while I was
trying to save Larson! But we’ll meet again soon! I can feel it in
my bones! And when we do...

...I’ll make that side-winder pay for his crimes–-in full!

The closing caption hypes the continuation of this story:

Don’t miss our next thrilling issue when the Rawhide Kid again
encounters the menacing a gripping tale that will
include the return appearance of Kid Colt! For the ultimate in
western action, pardner, just ride the trail with the Rawhide Kid!

Lieber’s focus is on the Masquerader more than the Rawhide Kid in
this story.  The master of disguise is a cut above most villains in
Marvel’s 1960s western comics.  Lieber’s art and storytelling are
top-notch.  Whatever the genre, Larry worked hard on his stories,
but he had a special fondness for his Rawhide Kid efforts. 

Hubbell’s inking is a good fit for Lieber’s pencils.  He adds some
grit without overwhelming Lieber’s drawings.

The lead story is followed by a full-page house ads for the “now on
sale” Two-Gun Kid #78 and Kid Colt Outlaw #125, in which the most
sociable Blaine Colt meets Two-Gun.  I wrote about Kid Colt #125 in
last Wednesday’s bloggy thing and, as I recently acquired a copy of
the Two-Gun Kid issue, you can expect to see my writing about that
one in the near future.  

This issue’s non-series reprint is “The Sheriff's Star” by Stan Lee
and Gene Colan.  It was originally published in the Rawhide Kid #35
[August 1963].  Here’s what I said about the story when I covered
that issue in the bloggy thing:

This issue’s non-series story is “The Sheriff’s Star” by Stan Lee
with art by Gene Colan.  A stranger rides hurriedly into town.  He
has been robbed and wants to report the crime to the sheriff.  But
he soon learns the town has no lawman and that the men who robbed
him are the Jooks Brothers.  The siblings are also the reason the
town doesn’t have a sheriff.  No one is brave enough to take them
down.  As if on cue, the Jooks ride into town and humiliate the man
they just robbed.

The stranger isn’t going to stand for that.  He buys a gun, spends
all his money on ammunition and learns how to use the weapon with
uncommon skill.  Then he takes the sheriff’s badge and goes after
the Jooks Brothers.  He disarms them, they whine pitifully, the law
has come to Timberlane, Texas.

Why do I describe this story as familiar?  Because it’s the latest
in Stan Lee’s series of tales where the big reveal is a character
is some noted historical figure of the Old West.  In this case, it
turns out to be John Henry “Doc” Holliday, come to Texas for
health reasons.  Asked his name, he says:

"It’s Holliday! Some folks call me “Doc” because I used to study
medicine back East! I came out here on account of my lungs–-for the
sun and heat!"

A townsman opines:

"Well, Doc Holliday, I got a notion yore gonna make yourself a name
out here!

Doc Holliday lived from 1851-1887, dying at the age of 36.  He was
never a sheriff, though he was a friend of Wyatt Earp.  Nothing in
this tale jibes with the reality of the man, but his name has the
touch of legend so obviously loved by Stan.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins!” page makes its Rawhide Kid debut in
this issue.  The packed-with-prose page announces the return of Joe
Sinnott to Marvel (inking Fantastic Four and “Nick Fury, Agent of
Shield”); teases readers on Sub-Mariner penciler Adam Austin’s real
identity; plugs Monsters Unlimited and You Don’t Say, Stan’s photo
humor magazines; reports that fans want to see Jack Kirby’s inking
of his pencils with the pledge that Marvel will try to get him to
ink a special pin-up page in one of this year’s annuals; and asks
readers what they think of this page.

There’s a shot of a “mysterious mailing tube,” which holds Marvel’s
next “mail order bombshell.” If I recall correctly, the tube holds
a huge Spider-Man poster.  Can anyone confirm that?

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” is also on the page.  This month, the
Fantastic Four are learning more about the Inhumans, Peter Parker
is meeting his new college classmates, the X-Men are fighting the
Sentinels, Wally Wood writes an issue of Daredevil, Thor has at it
with the Absorbing Man and Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes
get leave in the USA.  Did our soldiers really get to fly home to have
leave during World War II? I suspect not.

There’s a small ad for a Hulk t-shirt ($1.50 plus fifteen cents for
postage and handling) and Marvel’s official swinging stationary kit
($1 plus 15 cents postage and handling). If buyers include their
MMMS membership number with their order, they will receive a bonus
gift with each order.  Do any of my bloggy thing readers remember
what that bonus gift was?

The page concludes with the names of 25 more MMMS members.  None of
the names are familiar to me, but, in other Marvel comics of this
era, you can occasionally spot the name of a future comics writer
or artist.  I get a kick out of that.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page wraps up the issue
and, as it’s no longer sharing its space with the checklist, we get
more letters and just a couple plugs for other Marvel comic books
and merchandise.  The most notable letter is from future retailer
and mail-order legend Bud Plant who writes:

No! No! No! Don’t take super-heroes back to the time of the RAWHIDE
KID. What western villain could stand up against them???!

Marvel responds:

We’ll never know until we try, will we, Bud? But don’t worry, amigo
–- we’re not planning to introduce any super-heroes in our cowboy
classics! They’ve got their own mags –- and that’s how it’s gonna

To which I add:

Happy trails to you, my friends, until our next Rawhide Wednesday.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Ever have one of those days when so many really little things go wrong that your whole day just turns to crap?  That was my day.  Everything I wanted to do today and the rest of this week will be late.  It'll get done, but it won't be done when I wanted it to be done.  I'm going to crawl under the covers and curl up into a ball for the next several hours.  I will emerge triumphant or some semblance thereof.


Bury the lead? Not in today’s bloggy thing.

Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary by Michael Schumacher and comics
publishing legend Denis Kitchen [Bloomsbury USA; $30] might just be
the best biography of a cartoonist ever. Capp, the creator of the
wildly successful and profitable Li’l Abner newspaper strip, is a
key figure in the history of comics. He was a genius and a devil,
his two natures often at odds with one another.  Eventually, Capp’s
devil would plunge him into disgrace.

Schumacher and Kitchen are our sympathetic guides to Capp’s life.
They show his family before his birth and the boy who could become
the man.  Capp lost his leg in a streetcar accident in his youth.
We see how that injury shaped many of his attitudes, his surprising
confidence and his determination to overcome that and every other
obstacle in his path.

Capp’s travels as a young man.  His conning various schools into a
free education.  His courtship of his beloved wife and, sadly, many
other women.  His early efforts as a cartoonist.  His challenging
apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka.  His gift
for humor emerging large in Li’l Abner and allowing him to indulge
his equal penchant for satire and sex, both in his comic strip and
in his life.  His good works. His family life. His secret and not
so secret romances.  His generosity and his cruelty.  His shift to
a nasty conservatism that diminished his humor from the heights of
his greatest successes into the kind of mean-spirited insults that
play well to 2013's right-wing extremists.  Schumacher and Kitchen
presents his life, halos and warts and all.  It is an overwhelming
prose portrait of a great man and a less-than-good man and a tragic
figure...and they are all Al Capp.

The engaging prose is accompanied by dozens of rare photos, comic
strips, drawings, and newspaper articles.  The book looks terrific.
It feel good in your hands as you read it.  This is a thoughtful,
handsomely-made book and I recommend it to all serious students of
the comics art form.

I’ll be totally astonished if Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary isn’t
nominated for lots of awards.  I will not be surprised when it wins
many of them.  To me, even with 2013 less than two months old, it’s
a shoo-in for next year’s Eisner Award for best non-fiction book.

ISBN 978-1-60819-623-4


I wake up every morning wondering what I can do to bring a little
more happiness into the world and make the lives of my fellow human
beings a little better.  I’m like Jesus in that way, though without
the nail-and-spear holes.

I have read of the “Monopoly Cat,” the playing piece scheduled to
replace the “Monopoly Iron” in the classic game.  Cats are great.
I have a cat and love her a lot. 

I also know many talented artists are without sufficient employment
in these troubled times.  I yearn to help them. 

Then it hit me.

Sculptors could make little Monopoly Cat pieces that look like the
cats owned by those willing to shell out some bucks for such a cool
addition to their Monopoly game.  You know how cat owners are.  If
they have the money, they will commission these.

I am a job creator.  This idea is offered freely to all sculptors
looking for paying gigs.  It’s offered freely because that’s what
Jesus would do.

Jesus would also ask you make videos of your cats playing Monopoly
and post them online.  Because, really, who doesn’t love videos of
cute cats?  I’ll tell you who.  Satan.

Follow Jesus or follow Satan.  The choice is yours.


This is what I posted a few days ago...

I don’t have much patience with dishonest people, which could be a
subject for an entire week of bloggy things.  So I’ll just mention
my most recent encounter of this nature.

A guy has a Jack Kirby cover from the 1970s.  It’s not prime Kirby,
but it’s a spiffy piece.  The Grand Comics Database credits Marie
Severin with the layout and Frank Giacoia as the inker.  However,
when I saw the original art for this cover, it was clear to me and
at least one other person that John Romita Senior had redrawn the
face of the title hero.  I’d seen Romita heads on enough covers to
be fairly certain of the identification.

When the owner was informed of this by the “one other person,” he
removed the person’s comment from his gallery.  He claimed that he
did this because, while we might be right, he hadn’t seen anything
in the way of documentation of this and didn’t want to mislead any
future potential buyers.  So I guess if someone goes to the Grand
Comics Database and adds this information, the owner will quickly
include it in his description of the cover.

Or not. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I don’t think he’s as much
concerned about misleading potential buyers as diminishing how much
money he might get when he sells the cover.

I sent him a private and only mildly snarky e-mail questioning his
spin on the matter.  I figured, hey, give the guy the chance to do
the right thing.  His response made it pretty clear that he wasn’t
likely to do that.  To me, failing to include that information is
less than honest.  Your mileage may vary.

The “one other person” has come around to the owner’s position and
posted this to the bloggy thing:

I'm the "one other person" and as you know, I've changed my mind
based on the copy of Kirby's pencils that I discovered in a
Heritage listing for the Severin prelim. The face is utterly
Romita-esque, but I can only now attribute that to Giacoia's
mastery of the house style. His inking is very close to Kirby's
original, and yet the original doesn't look like Romita. I agree
that the (potential) seller's argument for deleting my comment was
fairly spurious-- it was fair and reasonable discussion --but as it
turned out, we were wrong. Goes to show.

Aaron N.

Back to me:

I still think the head in question looks like Romita fixed it up a
bit in inking it.  But Aaron posits a plausible scenario for what
I’m seeing, so, in the interest of plain fairness, I’m withdrawing
and hereby apologizing for any insinuation of dishonesty on the
part of the owner.

I still think Romita worked on the head, but, unless Romita himself
confirms my identification, I don’t think the owner is off base in
not including my identification in his gallery.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another Rawhide Kid Wednesday.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Monday, February 25, 2013


Just some quick thoughts:

Seth MacFarlane's performance as Oscar host has received less than great notices.  I beg to differ with pals Heidi McDonald and Mark Evanier, among others.  Though the length of the show clearly weighed on MacFarlane, his extended opening bit was sensationally funny.  What Mark thought of the opening being about MacFarlane, I saw as contemporary self-deprecating humor that weaved contemporary issues into its mix.  The musical numbers were grand and only a few presenters embarrassed themselves, most notable Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy, the Avengers cast - and whose bright idea was it to have the stars of the year's biggest hit give out the award in the one category in which the film was nominated, knowing the Acedemy's well-developed bias against popular success - and Richard Gere and his angels.  Still, Barb and I enjoyed the presentation, only dozed off once for a few minutes, and, in my case, am inspired to check out a couple movies like The Life of Pi, to name just one.  Well done, MacFarlane, well done.

Pope Benedict gave his final blessing.  Big whoop.  I wanted to see this bad man go out in a perp walk and, until that happens to him and other high-ranking Church people, the Catholic Church will be stained with the corruption and vileness of their child-molesting brethren.

Ohio Gov, Kaisch wants to lower requirements for schools.  This is a thinly disguised attempt to shield the charter schools, especially religious charter schools, from getting their certifications pulled and thus be allowed to continue to suck public money from the public school system.

I'm just a few pages into AMERICAN COMIC-BOOK CHRONICLES: 1960-1964 by my pal John Wells and am loving it large.  Check it out and expect my review in a couple weeks. 

A new Tony column will be starting online soon.  Watch for details.



This week’s photo is a shot of son Eddie’s bedroom from November
2009.  Eddie was attending The Ohio State University then and, even
during the summers, he was living and working in Columbus.  Now he
lives in Marietta, Ohio and works for an engineering company over
the bridge in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

These days and with Eddie’s blessing, the room contains even more
boxes of comics, books and files.  Located right next to my office,
it’s a convenient staging and sorting area. 

It’s my intention to clear my stuff out of this room by the end of
summer, but Eddie is in no hurry for me to do this.  Every time he
visits, he rummages through whatever boxes are there and generally
goes back to Marietta with a box or two of stuff he’s “borrowing”
from me.  I fear he’s growing his own Vast Accumulation of Stuff.
The sins of the father...

The sharp-eyed among you might have noticed my cat Simba sitting on
the boxes and looking out the window.  Whether I manage to clear my
stuff out of the room or not, I’ll probably maintain a staircase of
boxes there.  For Simba. 
Today is Monday, which usually means new items in my VAOS sales and
reduced prices on previously listed items. However...this week, due
to the greater than normal chaos in my life, there are no new sales
items.  But I have reduced the prices on all the previously listed
items and - what the heck - I’ll even throw in a free comic book or
other item of my choosing with every purchase.  

Here’s how my VAOS sales work...

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me,
the better your chances of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail
orders will be accepted and you should not send payment until you
get a confirmation e-mail from me.  All listed items are in good or
better condition unless otherwise noted. 

Let me stress that “e-mail only” rule.  Most of the few mistakes I
have made in assembling/shipping orders have happened with orders
I accepted via phone or Facebook message.  So...I’m not gonna break
my own rule anymore.

You should always include your mailing address with your orders.
That speeds up the packaging and the shipping.

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is
a $5 shipping/handling charge for up to four items via media mail.
Add $1 for every two additional items. Tracking numbers are sent to
buyers when their orders have been shipped. 

My shipping costs went up this month, but I’ve been absorbing that
additional expense.  That will change in March with an increase to
$6 for shipping and handling. 

Payments are by check, money order or PayPal.  My PayPal address is
the same as my email address.  Purchases will generally be shipped
within a week of checks clearing,  money orders received or PayPal
payments received.

Because this is a one-man operation done between family, household
and work responsibilities, these items are only available to buyers
within the United States and to APO buyers.

When you receive your order, please check it and let me know of any
omissions as soon as possible.  I’ll be double-checking the orders
on my end, but, if there’s a problem, I want to make it right in a
timely fashion.

This week’s sale ends when the new sale goes up on Monday, March 4.
As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

Here are this week’s few remaining items...

AMERICAN CENTURY: HOLLYWOOD BABYLON by Howard Chaykin and others [Vertigo; 2002]. Reprints issues #5-9. Softcover. $2

BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND VOLUME 4 [DC: 2012]. Over five hundred pages of full-color Batman and “Batman Family” comics by Devin Grayson, Greg Rucks, Dennis O’Neil and others, originally published in 1999 and 2000. Softcover. $10

ESSENTIAL MOON KNIGHT VOLUME 3 [Marvel; 2010]. Reprints issues #31-38, Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #1-6 plus Moon Knight stories from Marvel Fanfare #39 & 38-39, Solo Avengers #3 and Marvel Super-Heroes #1, including two issues written by me. Signed on request. Softcover. $10

FLIGHT VOLUME THREE [Ballantine Books; 2006]. Contains stories by Becky Cloonan and others. Softcover. $2

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


I was in the seventh grade when I started making my own comic books
of a sort.  My first efforts were both written and drawn by me, and
I wrote them directly on the paper I drew them on.  When I met some
artists willing to draw my stories, I still wrote them out in that
manner.  That changed when I purchased Secrets Behind the Comics,
Stan Lee’s 1947 books on how to make comic books.

The book showed the two-column script format used on this ancient
script of mine.  The panel descriptions were in the left column and
the copy in the right.  I would guess I wrote about a dozen to two
dozen scripts in this fashion before realizing it was not a great
way to write a comic-book script.  However, it did teach me how to
convey information to whoever would draw my scripts.

Dating “The Coming of the Huntress” is difficult because I simply
can’t be sure when I bought my copy of Secrets Behind the Comics.
I bought it at either a 1969 Detroit Triple Fan Fare convention or
a 1970 New York Comic Convention.  I would have written “Huntress”
within a few months to a year of getting Stan’s book.  Which means
I was 17 or 18 years old when I wrote this script. 

I don’t remember what I wrote “The Coming of the Huntress” for.  It
may have been for a fanzine.  It may have been intended as a pitch
for DC editor Murray Boltinoff, with whom I had started exchanging
brief notes about his comics and my ambitions.  Those would be the
two most likely scenarios, but it’s a coin toss as to which one was
the actual reason for my writing this script.

When I started mentioning the wondrous things I found while moving
old files to a new file cabinet, this script was the one which my
Facebook friends most wanted to see.  I present it here warts and
all.  I hope you enjoy it or, at least, find it entertainingly odd.
If you’re an artist who wants to draw it, well, you’re undoubtedly
a silly person, but we can certainly talk about that.

Some additional notes:

My best guess is that it took me one day or two nights to write
this script and this was the first and only draft of the script. I
wasn’t much for rewriting in my youth or proofreading.  The proof
of that is that there are two sequential pages numbered “8" and I
never caught that mistake until now.

Some of the original script pages are difficult to read because of
either the passage of time or my not changing the typewriter ribbon
when it really needed changing.  The term “typewriter ribbon” will
be unfamiliar to my younger bloggy thing readers.  A visit to your
local museum of antiquities might be in order.  In any case, I did
the best I could to darken them for their presentation in today’s
column.  I hope my efforts prove sufficient.

That’s the intro.  Here are the script pages...


© 2013 Tony Isabella

Sunday, February 24, 2013


How could a blind man avoid that bear trap –- unless a dog from
beyond were really leading him?

That’s the question asked by a disbelieving Doctor Terry Thirteen,
AKA the Ghost-Breaker, on the cover of Star Spangled Comics #125
[February 1952]. The cover was penciled by Leonard Starr and this
long-running DC Comics title was just a few issues away from being
turned into Star Spangled War Stories.

Thirteen was a parapsychologist who would investigate and disprove
supernatural happenings.  That worked okay for him in these tales,
but reduced him to a clown in the later comics of a DC Universe in
which the supernatural was unquestionably real and, indeed, common
in the lives of the DCU super-heroes.

The Ghost-Breaker shared this title with three very different co-
features: Robin the Boy Wonder, nautical detective Captain Compass
and Revolutionary War-era soldier Tomahawk.  Here’s the contents of
this issue, including supplemental features:

Buzzy in “Be Yourself -- Your Best Self!” (1 page).  This was one
of the ever-present public service advertisements that ran in DC’s
comics.  It was written by Jack Schiff, drawn by Winslow Mortimer
and featured teen Buzzy teaching a classmate about self-confidence
and good manners.

Ghost-Breaker: “The Hermit's Ghost Dog!” (7.67 pages).  This story
is pencilled by Starr.  It was reprinted in The Phantom Stranger #1
[May-June 1969], but, contrary to the Grand Comics Database entry,
it isn’t reprinted in 2006's Showcase Presents Phantom Stranger #1.
I’m sure I read the story when it was reprinted, but I can’t recall
anything about it.

Robin in “Murder on the Chessboard” (5.67 pages).  Written by David
Vern and drawn by Jim Mooney.  It was reprinted in World’s Finest
#190 [December 1969].  I know I read it, but, again, I can’t
remember anything about it.

Captain Compass in “The Four Lives of the "Edith B.!" (5.67 pages).
This story is drawn by Paul Norris, but its writer hasn’t yet been

Private Pete (0.67 pages).  A humor filler by the legendary Henry

“Metal That Changed Our Lives” (2 pages). This is a text article on
the history of copper.

Tomahawk in “The Pirates of the 1,000 Islands!” (5.67 pages).  The
story is drawn by Bob Brown, but its writer remains unidentified at
this time. 

The issue also has a full-page advertisement for House of Mystery
#2 [February-March 1952]. The cover to that issue was penciled by
Curt Swan.

I like the notion of an adventure anthology book with such varied
features.  Probably the closest thing we have to such a title today
is Dark Horse Presents

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from my birth month of December 1951.


Stating the obvious, I have financial and professional issues with
DC Comics and - believe it or don’t - they have nothing to do with
why I dislike their current super-hero products.  Why I don’t like
their current super-hero products has everything to do with their
comic books not being very good and, in many cases, being downright
awful.  I would tell you I’m currently struggling to get current on
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men, but that’s not accurate.
After reading uninteresting issue after issue, I’m just flipping
through them now.  Nothing to see there.

On the other hand, I’m really enjoying Ed Brubaker’s Batman stories
from about ten years ago.  A bunch of these were reprinted in the
100-page DC Comics Presents Batman #1-3 [2010; $7.99 each].  They
feature a Batman who works for me.  He’s amazing at what he does,
but he’s a human being as well.  The supporting players, especially
bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux, are essential parts of the continuities.
The villains are deadly and scary, but have greater depth than the
usual insane mass-murderers.  The writing goes down as smooth as a
fine ale and, though I haven’t been a huge fan of his work in the
past, artist Scott McDaniel’s contributions to these stories also
pleases me.  I’m delighted with these comics and not the least bit
surprised that DC has no clue how good they were or how terrific a
character Sasha was.  It’s just how DC is.


Ten minutes after writing the above, I took a short break to have
a slice of pizza and read the last issue of Firestorm that I had on
hand.  It was Firestorm #13 and the first issue of what I assume is
the new creative team.  It was written and penciled by Dan Jurgens
with finished ink art by Ray McCarthy. 

My first impression was visual.  The comic looked much better than
the previous issues.  People looked like people, Firestorm looked
like Firestorm, the backgrounds placed the story firmly into a real
world.  I have a wide range of what I like in comic-book art and,
though this art might not be innovative, it represents good solid
drawing and storytelling.

The story didn’t work as well for me.  The writing was much better
than previous issues.  There was more humanity to the characters.
There was more emotional weight to the situations.  Where it didn’t
work as well for me was in the super-hero stuff...because we have
all seen it many times before.

Mystery villain attacks a government base to “test” the abilities
of Firestorm.  Three (I presume) new villains working for whoever
is running this business are introduced.  The issue concludes with
no satisfying ending, which, I believe, even a continued story must
have.  Someone paid three bucks for this comic books.  They should
finish feeling that they got their money’s worth.

We don’t know what the mystery villain is seeking.  We don’t know
what’s at stake if he succeeds.  We don’t know who the supporting
villains are or how they got to this place.  They aren’t characters
here; they’re just action figures.

Every issue of every comic book is somebody’s first issue of that
comic book.  The job is too entertain them so well that they come
back for the next issue.  Thus endeth the sermon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with - shudder - an original and unpublished
script I wrote before I was a comics industry professional.  I was
a teenager when I wrote this script, which is a whole lot of years
ago.  Lord have mercy on my soul.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Saturday, February 23, 2013


The Unknown Comic #212 [DC; February 1978] isn’t a real comic book.
It’s the result of a particularly quiet afternoon during my years
owning and managing a comic-book shop and newsstand.  I had bought
the store in an effort to convince my birth family and future in-
laws that I did, indeed, have a job.  I kept it going for almost a
dozen years before closing it under circumstances not entirely of
my choosing but, which in the long run, worked out much better for
me and my real family.  I got to be a stay-at-home dad for my kids
and, as it turned out, some of their neighborhood pals, and I got
back to writing.  Despite the rockiness of my writing career over
the years, it was the best choice I could have made.

Working in my store had its good moments, but it also had a lot of
bad or simply boring moments.  The long hours could make me crazy
on occasion and I would have to find outlets for that.  This silly
paste job is one of those.  I was surprised to find it among my old
files.  What an odd thing to save.

The Unknown Comic was Murray Langston, an actor and stand-up comic.
He had a fairly successful career as a sketch comedian, appearing
on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, etc.
He invested in a nightclub restaurant and, when it failed, it took
his savings with it.  It’s been reported that, out of desperation,
he agreed to appear on Chuck Barris’ The Gong Show and that, out of
embarrassment, he asked if he could perform with a simple brown bag
over his head.  He was a hit and appeared on over 150 episodes of
the show. 

Langston acted in, wrote and produced a bunch of other things and
went through two marriages.  According to Wikipedia, in the 1990s,
he semi-retired to raise his two daughters and, by all accounts, he
did a great job.  He does occasional stand-up in Las Vegas and is
writing his memories.  He also does considerable charity work for
various children’s causes.  Maybe he’s not a super-star, but, in my
book, his is a life well lived.

Maybe DC should have published an Unknown Comic book.  If asked, I
would have been delighted to write it.


One of the good things about owning a comic-book store was getting
to read or, at least, flip through all the new issues every week.
I don’t think I want to do that these days, but I do enjoy sitting
down with a batch of comics.

The Answer #1 [Dark Horse; $3.99] is by Mike Norton (story and art)
and Dennis Hopeless (story and writing).  The first of four issues,
it introduces a masked super-hero with an exclamation point on his
full-face mask.  This first issue was moderately intriguing, enough
to earn it a second chance from me.  Norton’s art was big and bold,
perhaps a touch too much for the material.  The writing was good.
Some online commentator said the Answer is Dark Horse’s version of
The Question - and that the Black Beetle is DH’s take on the Blue
Beetle - but I’m not seeing that.  On the other hand, if Dark Horse
is considering doing their versions of either Gorgo or Konga, they
really need to hire me to write those books.


I also read a trio of recent Marvel Comics issues. Astonishing X-
Men Annual
#1 [$4.99} was the best of the bunch, due to Christos
Gage’s “Welcome to the Family.”  Drawn by David Baldeon with inks
Jordi Tarragona, the story is set on the night of Northstar’s and
Kyle Jinadu’s honeymoon.  The festivities are interrupted by Logan
and the gang needing Northstar’s help to foil the assassinations of
mutant family members and loved ones by the Friends of Humanity, a
hate group determined to make a bloody statement.  This is a solid
story with several excellent Kyle scenes.  Gage is far and away my
favorite Marvel writer these days.

Backing up the new story is a reprint of the Alpha Flight story in
which Northstar’s homosexuality was made public.  It’s nonsensical
and unsubtle in its writing and downright ugly in its art.  People
sure bought a lot of crap comics in the 1990s.

Avengers #1 [$3.99] is the premiere issue of the for-no-good-reason
relaunch of the title.  Jonathan Hickman is the writer and, while
the story isn’t entirely without merit, the writing strikes me as
being insufferably pleased with itself which, of course, distracts
from the story. 

The Jerome Opena art didn’t do much for me either. It’s too posed.
Even the action scenes lacked any genuine sense of movement.  The
last page of the issue, which could and should have been dramatic,
was undone by its static pin-up quality.  Additionally, though this
might just be me, I didn’t recognized half the heroes shown on the

I liked Avengers Assemble #10 [$3.99] better.  Kelly Sue DeConnick
provided some good moments for Captains America and Marvel in her
script and did well with the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Spider-Woman.
That’s a solid roster for the team.  I’m on the fence when it comes
to new villain Yun Guag Han, but he definitely has my interest at
this point.  I also liked Stefano Caselli’s art, which adds up to
a respectable win for this issue.


One of the all-time most popular features in Comics Buyer’s Guide
was its monthly “Top Ten Covers” feature.  Each week’s covers were
chosen by a different CBG writer or guest professional.  I did my
list in 2007.

The Wednesday’s Heroes website has revived the feature on a weekly
schedule with a new list being posted every Friday.  Except that’s
not the case this week.

This week, Wednesday’s Heroes is re-presenting my list from 2007.
There are some unusual choices on that list and I think you’ll get
a kick out of it.  Check it out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Friday, February 22, 2013


Spy Fighters #7 [Marvel; March 1952] was another comic book from my
December 1951 birth month.  It starred Federal agent Clark Mason,
of whom I know nothing.  The only credits for this character in the
Grand Comics Database are from issues of Spy Fighters.

The cover of this issue was drawn and signed by Russ Heath.  Inside
the issue were two Clark Mason stories, two non-series stories and
a text story.  No writers of these stories have been identified at
this time and the GCD has no synopsis for any of the tales.  Here’s
what we do know about the issue’s contents:

Clark Mason, Spy Fighter in “Operation Iceberg” (8 pages).  At this
time, the artist of the story has not been identified.

“The Tower of Terror” (5 pages), drawn and signed by Sol Brodsky.

“One Answer Too Many” (2 pages), text story.

“The Bullet!” (4 pages), drawn and signed by Cal Massey.

Clark Mason, Spy Fighter in “Cannibals of the Congo!” (6 pages).
Drawn and signed by Sol Brodsky.

As always, if you have information on this comic book or any of the
other vintage comic books discussed in my bloggy things, I urge you
to share your knowledge with my readers and me.


Croczilla (2012) is, at least according to Wikipedia, China’s first
monster movie.  It was originally titled Million Dollar Crocodile
and the title change for US release is only one of the ways Screen
Media distorted the movie for sales reasons.

The title star is an aged 8-meter crocodile that has been sold to
a shady restaurant owner who plans to serve it up to his customers.
The crocodile escapes and goes on a particularly mild rampage.  Its
first “victim” is the cash-stuffed bag of a young woman, played by
Barbie Hsu.  The DVD box describes her character as a “sexy model,”
but, in the movie, she’s saved over million Euros from some sort of
work and discovered her boyfriend has been cheating on her.  That
million Euros was to be her ticket into early and very comfortable
retirement.  The box copy also exaggerates how much money is in the
crocodile’s belly.

Croczilla is actually an enjoyable little movie.  There’s a lot of
comedic aspects to it, which contrasts well with more scary scenes.
The characters are interesting and mostly likeable.  The hero is a
disrespected police officer raising a young son on his own and, of
course, the boy considers the croc, who he’s visited many times, to
be his friend.  The croc’s previous owner ran a crocodile zoo until
he could no longer afford to feed his creatures.  The “sexy model”
is less than admirable, but she grows considerable during the film.
The restaurant owner is an effeminate sleeze bag and his employees
are your basic idiots.  So, comedy and horror mix in this movie and
keeps it interesting.

That’s all of the story I want to give away here because I want you
to check out Croczilla for yourselves. I will add that the special
effects are good enough not to distract from the story and that the
violence is rare and tastefully portrayed.  The PG-13 rating sounds
about right to me and, at its Amazon price of $9.99, Croczilla is
cheaper than a trip to the local movie theater.


Bleeding Cool’s recent news story about Maggie Sawyer, a John Byrne
creation introduced during Byrne’s run on Superman, reminded me of
something I hadn’t considered previously.  Despite his outstanding
body of work, Byrne has never won an Eisner Award or been nominated
to the Eisner Hall of Fame.  That doesn’t sit well with me.

I have had my share of “disagreements” with Byrne.  He pretty much
wrote me off as a friend after I wrote an unfavorable review of his
1999 Spider-Man: Chapter One series.  But whether or not a comics
creator likes me has never been even a small factor in how I look
at their work.  So, when I look at Byrne’s comics career, his long
runs on various titles and his often innovative work, I think he’s
overdue for membership in the Hall of Fame...assuming, of course,
he doesn’t test positively for performance-enhancing drugs. 

I urge the Eisner Awards governing body to nominate John Byrne for
membership in the Hall of Fame at the earliest opportunity.  I’ll
tell you right now that he’ll get my vote.


On Twitter, “Tony D!” asked me: Have you written in your bloggy
thing about The Champions? Specifically who else could have been
the 5th member?

Much to my amazement, a search of my bloggy thing archives revealed
that I haven’t written about the Champions here.  However, I have
written about the book elsewhere and have been interviews about it
many times.  I suspect a Google search would bring you a lot more
“Tony talks Champions” than any one person needs to read.  In the
meantime, I’ll answer the other Tony’s specific question.

When Len Wein laid down the commandment that every super-hero team
needed a member who also had his own book, he suggested Luke Cage
be added to the Champions.  Which struck me as just about the worst
choice for the position.  For one thing, the Champions were located
in Los Angeles and Cage was located in New York City.  For another,
I wasn’t writing Cage at the time and would have to coordinate any
such move with Cage’s writer...and I was certain the writer would
not want to uproot Luke from Manhattan, a position with which I was
in absolute agreement.

I briefly considered Black Goliath, but I didn’t want to add Bill
Foster to the team until his own title was more underway.  It was
always my intention to add him at a future date, which is why Black
Goliath was also set in Los Angeles.

I went with Ghost Rider for the most devious of reasons.  Since I
was writing Ghost Rider, I knew I could keep Johnny Blaze so busy
in his own book that his Champions appearances could be limited to
the occasional storyline.  Of course, I never gave that reason to
Wein.  Len was just pleased that I was obeying his new commandment.

Bloggy thing readers should feel free to ask me questions like this
one...or any other questions they might have for me.  I’ll answer
them as quickly as possible.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Sports Action #11 [March 1952] hit the newsstands in my birth month
of December 1951...and we all know how fascinated I am by any comic
book that came out that month.  The cover artist of this issue has
yet to be identified.

Sports Action ran 13 issues from February 1950 to September 1952.
Its first issue was #2 as the title took over the numbering of the
one-shot Sports Stars. I don’t have any information on the plots of
the stories, but we know who drew most of them and who wrote one of
them.  Here are the contents...

“No Escape!” (6 pages), drawn and signed by Sol Brodsky;

“The Man Who Failed!” (6 pages), written by Ernie Hart and drawn by
Jay Scott Pike, both of whom signed the story;

“Yesterday's Hero” (6 pages), drawn and signed by Cal Massey;

“The Killer!” (6 pages), drawn and signed by Morris Weiss; and

“Swing, Busher,” a two-page text story with illustrations by Morris

How long has it been since an American comics publisher has tried
a sports comic?  Such comics were never a large part of the comics
market, but I wonder how they would fare today given the enormous
profits being made from sports memorabilia. 

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from my birth month.  If you have comics I’ve written about and are
willing to trade them for copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read
or items from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales, I’d definitely
be interested in discussing trades with you.


I’m not in the mood for reviewing anything today, so I figure I’ll
go all “me, me, me” on you and share some random stuff.  Feel free
to just pretend to listen.  Godzilla knows, I impose you too much
as it is.

Just as I have more comic books and books to read than I’m likely
to get to in my lifetime - though I plan to both live a very long
life and get to them all - I have a lot of DVDs to watch.  To name
just the most recent arrivals: Croczilla, Dredd, House, Snow Shark
and a DVD sent to me by original Buyer’s Guide publisher Alan Light
that contains “rare vintage video of comics fandom.”  I am praying
to the Great Scaly One that I do not appear on any of that vintage
video.  By the way, House is not the TV show about the odd doctor
that I never watched.  It’s a Japanese ghost story.  Also sitting
nearby is the complete Ranma 1/2 animated series on DVD.  Someone
needs to invent the 48-hour day for me.


I’m always pleased and somewhat surprised when readers compliment
me on my 1970s and 1980s work.  Especially when those readers were
not born when that work was originally published.  I have somewhat
mixed feelings about some of the work, but satisfied that I always
gave every assignment the best I had in me within the circumstances
of my writing it.


As I get older, I find I have less patience with certain kinds of
people.  I’m sure academicians are very dedicated and nice folks,
but they give me a pain in my brain when they start over-thinking
the comics writing I did. 

Recently, and I apologize for being somewhat grumpy when answering
this gentleman’s questions, I was grilled about one of those quick
filler pages I wrote for Marvel’s black-and-white horror magazines.
The scholar claimed I was one of the first to write about Lilith in
comics and wanted to know my inspiration for doing so. 

The extent of my inspiration was that, from time to time, my friend
and editor Marv Wolfman would ask me to write a bunch of one-page
fillers for the monster magazines.  I would flip through the dozen
or so books of mythology and monster folklore I owned, retrieving
information from several different sources and boil it down to 5-7
panels.  I would write several of these in an evening.

I always tried to bring my “A” game to these fillers, writing them
in what I hoped was an entertaining and informative way.  Some of
my chosen subjects were great fun for me.  Some of them were just
a way to exercise and improve my craft.  But I never thought they
were terribly important in either comics history or monsterology.

Ask me about them four decades later, as this scholarly fellow did,
and I’m not going to be able to tell you more than the above.  It
cost me valuable brain cells to remember what I’ve just repeated to
you. I was just a honest writer doing my work with clean hands and
the dual desire of entertaining readers and making Marv’s editorial
load just a little lighter.  That’s the whole of it.


I don’t have much patience with dishonest people, which could be a
subject for an entire week of bloggy things.  So I’ll just mention
my most recent encounter of this nature.

A guy has a Jack Kirby cover from the 1970s.  It’s not prime Kirby,
but it’s a spiffy piece.  The Grand Comics Database credits Marie
Severin with the layout and Frank Giacoia as the inker.  However,
when I saw the original art for this cover, it was clear to me and
at least one other person that John Romita Senior had redrawn the
face of the title hero.  I’d seen Romita heads on enough covers to
be fairly certain of the identification.

When the owner was informed of this by the “one other person,” he
removed the person’s comment from his gallery.  He claimed that he
did this because, while we might be right, he hadn’t seen anything
in the way of documentation of this and didn’t want to mislead any
future potential buyers.  So I guess if someone goes to the Grand
Comics Database and adds this information, the owner will quickly
include it in his description of the cover.

Or not. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I don’t think he’s as much
concerned about misleading potential buyers as diminishing how much
money he might get when he sells the cover. 

I sent him a private and only mildly snarky e-mail questioning his
spin on the matter.  I figured, hey, give the guy the chance to do
the right thing.  His response made it pretty clear that he wasn’t
likely to do that.  To me, failing to include that information is
less than honest.  Your mileage may vary.

ADDED 2/26/13

The “one other person” has come around to the owner’s position and
posted this to the bloggy thing:

I'm the "one other person" and as you know, I've changed my mind
based on the copy of Kirby's pencils that I discovered in a
Heritage listing for the Severin prelim. The face is utterly
Romita-esque, but I can only now attribute that to Giacoia's
mastery of the house style. His inking is very close to Kirby's
original, and yet the original doesn't look like Romita. I agree
that the (potential) seller's argument for deleting my comment was
fairly spurious-- it was fair and reasonable discussion --but as it
turned out, we were wrong. Goes to show.

Aaron N.

Back to me:

I still think the head in question looks like Romita fixed it up a
bit in inking it.  But Aaron posits a plausible scenario for what
I’m seeing, so, in the interest of plain fairness, I’m withdrawing
and hereby apologizing for any insinuation of dishonesty on the
part of the owner.

I still think Romita worked on the head, but, unless Romita himself
confirms my identification, I don’t think the owner is off base in
not including my identification in his gallery.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Here's wishing the happiest of birthdays to Anthony Tollin, one of my oldest and dearest friends.  After a long career working as a colorist for DC Comics, Tollin turned his love of radio, The Shadow and other pulps into a second career.  He is widely recognized as a leading authority in these areas and, through his Sanctum Books, he's the publisher of such classic characters as The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Phantom Detective, Nick Carter, The Avenger and The Whisperer.  You can order his books at:

Have a great day, Anthony, and many more wonderful years to come!



From time to time, just to keep things fresh, the Rawhide Kid will
be loaning his mid-week spot out to other western comic books.  The
majority of these will be Marvel westerns, but we may surprise you
every now and then.

Kid Colt Outlaw #125 [November 1965] features the first meeting of
Blaine Colt and the Two-Gun Kid.  This issue’s cover is penciled
by Dick Ayers with inks by Mike Esposito.  It’s a dramatic image.
I also like the riders in the lower background.  Some artists would
not have gone that extra step, but Ayers always brought his best to
his western comics assignments.

“Day of the Gunslingers” (17 pages) is by Larry Lieber with art by
Jack Keller.  I always enjoyed my old friend Larry’s writing, but,
the more I reread his work from this period, the more admiration I
have for his skills.  He doesn’t get half the acclaim he deserves
for his work.

This story starts out with Kid Colt on the run from a posse, which
is a typical situation for the young outlaw.  Colt is rescued from
certain capture by a shady gunman hired by Silas Kane, a candidate
for mayor of Tombstone.  Kane is looking to hire outlaws like Kid
Colt.  Our hero feels obligated to listen to Kane’s offer - his man
did just save him - but he’s got a bad feeling about it.

Switch to Tombstone where Mayor Fred Johnson is giving a campaign
speech.  The mayor has done right by the town.  He hired the best
sheriff around. The streets are safe.  He has built a school and a
church for the town.  His reelection looks assured.

Kane’s rowdies cause a ruckus at the speech and there are too many
of them for Sheriff Barton to handle.  Fortunately, he gets a hand
from the towering Boom-Boom Brown, friend and confidante of lawyer
Matt Hawk (who is secretly the Two-Gun Kid).  The gunman take off.

Kid Colt is brought to the office of Silas Kane, who doesn’t hide
for a moment his plans to run Tombstone crookedly and for his own
profit if he’s elected.  Colt is having none of that, but, before
he can get clear, he is overwhelmed by Kane’s gunnies.  They empty
the Kid’s guns and force him to accompany them to a bank robbery.
The townspeople are understandably terrified by Colt’s reputation,
mostly unearned though it is.

Hawk spots the robbery, changes to his masked identity and pursues
the fleeing robbers.  The bad guys split up rather than face him.
Kid Colt’s bad luck gets even worse when Two-Gun recognizes him and
decides Colt is the biggest threat.  Two-Gun knows the territory.
He is able to cut off Colt’s escape and capture him.  Neither Two-
Gun nor Sheriff Barton believe Colt’s explanation as to why he was
part of the robbery, but Two-Gun tells Blaine he’ll get Matt Hawk
to represent him at trial.  Representing criminals he’s captured is
something Hawk shares with the modern-day Matt Murdock.  I’m pretty
sure that must be an ethics violation of some kind.

Colt breaks out of jail, using his spur to loosen the wooden floor
boards of his cell.  He comes up behind the sheriff, retrieves his
guns and locks Barton in a cell.  Hmm...I wonder if the sheriff is
an ancestor of Clint “Hawkeye” Barton.

Colt spots Kane’s men and goes after them.  He’s outnumbered, but
the Two-Gun Kid has witnessed this and now knows Colt was framed.
Kane’s men take off with both Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid in close
pursuit.  The two gunfighters are more than a match for their foes,
but, at the battle’s end, Colt takes a bullet meant for Two-Gun and
thus cements their friendship. 

After the owlhoots are dealt with, Two-Gun tends to Colt’s wound.
He realizes how wrong he was about Colt:

You’re a gallant fighter and you’re needed in many places, but jail
isn’t one of them! So, adios, amigo, I’m proud to have met you.

The sheriff and Two-Gun arrest Silas Kane.  They realize Kid Colt
made this possible.  The sheriff remarks:

I’m gonna tear up every reward poster I have on Kid Colt.  I wish
other lawmen would do the same!

The closing caption intones:

And so, Kid Colt has taken one more step along the hardest road in
the world for an outlaw...the road to respectability!  For another
thrilling encounter with this young outlaw, join us next issue!

Lieber’s plot and script for the story are masterful.  Kid Colt and
the Two-Gun Kid both get plenty of screen time and so do supporting
members of Two-Gun’s cast.  There’s plenty of action to go around
and a very satisfying ending.  I’m going to be looking for Lieber’s
work on the non-Rawhide Kid westerns.  I have a strong hunch it’ll
be worth the effort.

The lead story is followed by a full-page ad for Two-Gun Kid #78
[November 1965} featuring “The Revenge of Jesse James.”  The cover
of that issue is by Ayers and inker Vince Colletta, who was not a
good inker for western comics.  Also on the ad page are a list of
25 MMMS (Merry Marvel Marching Society) members, but I didn’t spot
any future pros or notable comics fans among them.

The Marvel westerns of this era always had a non-series anthology
tale backing up the lead feature.  In late 1965, they stopped doing
new stories and started reprinting old ones.  This issue’s “The Mob
Strikes” comes from Rawhide Kid #37 [December 1963].  Here’s what
I wrote about it a few months ago:

“The Mob Strikes” (5 pages) is drawn by Gene Colan and written by
Lee.  A man is arrested for murder and the citizens don’t want to
bother with a trial.  The mob breaks into the jail to get the man
when they are stopped by the victim’s widow.

Her husband was cleaning his gun and it went off accidentally.  The
accused tried to help but the sheriff - just passing by - thought
he was trying to rob the dead man.  So he arrested the man on the
spot.  Without even talking to the grieving widow.  Sheesh!

“The mob drifts away, silently, slowly, shamefully! Individually,
they are ordinary, average people...but when they gather together,
they become one of the most dangerous, most unreasoning things a
man can face...a mob!”

This isn’t one of the better Marvel western shorts.  Stan manages
to kick it up a notch with the last panel, but neither he nor Colan
seem particularly inspired here.

Following this story, we get for the Marvel Stationery Kid at only
$1 plus fifteen cents postage.  The ad reads: 

It’s packed with ever-lovin’ envelopes, loony letterheads, and its
own great, free pop-art portfolio! You’ve gotta get one...the dizzy
drawings alone are worth the price! And wait’ll you see the batty
bonus autograph page signed by almost every one of our costumed’s the livin' end!

“Kid Colt’s Roundup” is the name of this title’s letters page and,
this time around, there are four short letters.  The first suggests
putting Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid in a single book and published
monthly.  The second suggests guest-starring the long-lived Thor in
one of the western titles.  The third wants Colt to meet legendary
figures like Wild Bill Hickok or the Younger Brothers while also
asking for a western title starring cowgirls Belle Starr, Calamity
Jane and Annie Oakley.  The fourth letter was praise for a previous
issue with a promise to buy all future issues.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” takes up half of the letters page as
it usually did.  Spider-Man contends with the Cat, the X-Men fight
the Juggernaut, Wally Wood writes an issue of Daredevil, Thor does
battle with the Absorbing Man and, in Sgt. Fury, the Howlers are in
Burma and we learn the secret of Percy Pinkerton’s past.  I loved
them all then and now.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s only daily newspaper, created a list
of the top 100 celebrities who hailed from “Greater Cleveland” or
who could claim a strong Northeast Ohio connection.  While I know
you’ll be shocked - SHOCKED! - I did not make this list, I quickly
realized I could use it to fill up a bloggy thing.  Even if he was
still alive, I bet “actor, director, screen legend, race-car driver
and humanitarian Shaker Heights native” Paul Newman would not have
thought of that.  And yet...he still got the number one spot on the
list. Oh, really, Plain Dealer jury? Really?

I figured it might be fun and relatively easy to look at the list
and mention the people on it who have some connection to comics,
fantasy/horror/science fiction, or me personally. Though he was an
all-around great actor and human being, Newman fails to make it on
my “comics etc.” list.  Unless you want to consider that artist Gil
Kane reportedly based the face of Ray “the Atom” Palmer on Newman.
So let’s give Newman an honorable mention.

Bob Hope (#2) appeared in 109 issues of The Adventures of Bob Hope
from February-March 1950 to February-March 1968.  Dean Martin (#3)
was in 40 issues of The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
from July/August 1952 to October 1957.  When the team broke up, it
was Jerry who got custody of their comic book.

Halle Berry (#4) played Storm in three X-Men movies, Catwoman in a
Catwoman movie and James Bond girl Jinx in Die Another Day.  Berry
was also in The Flintstones (1994) and a single episode of the very
short-lived They Came From Outer Space TV series (1991).  I’d rank
her higher than Dean Martin, but not as high as Bob Hope. 

Hal Holbrook (#6) appeared in a 2000 episode of The Outer Limits.
Tom Hanks (#7) was the voice of “Woody” in Toy Story and starred in
Road to Perdition (2002) based on the graphic novel by Max Allan
Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. Hanks has other genre credits,
but I’m going to leave tracking them down to you.  Be the first to
post a comment listing them and you will win bragging rights among
those of my readers who also have too much time on their hands.

Tim Conway (#9) worked with Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson, Cleveland’s
greatest monster movie host of all time, and is also the voice of
Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob Squarepants.  He also voiced “Weeper” in
an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

John Lithgow (#11) played alien captain “Dick Solomon” in 3rd Rock
From the Sun
(1997-2001).  He has many other credits that qualify
him for this sub-list, but that’s the one I love the best.  If you
are so inclined, feel free to name others.

Talk-show host Phil Donahue (#15) went to St. Edward High School in
Lakewood, Ohio.  So did I, though I was several years behind him.
He makes my list.

Actress Ruby Dee (#20) was unforgettable as Mother Abigail in The
, a 1994 TV mini-series based on the amazing novel by comics
reader and very occasional comics writer Stephen King.  She also
appeared in the 1992 remake of The Cat People.

Ernie Anderson (#21) went to Hollywood and became the voice of ABC.
But, to me, he’ll always be movie host Ghoulardi, my guide to some
of the best and worst monster movies of all time.

Harvey Pekar (#23) was one of the greatest comics writers ever and
you should know that already.  Margaret Hamilton (#25) played the
Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.  TV weatherman Al Roker (#28) was
a customer of my Cosmic Comics store when he worked in Cleveland.

Joel Grey (#29) was memorable in his three Buffy the Vampire Slayer
appearances and also appeared in episodes of The Outer Limits, Star
Trek Voyager
and Rod Sterling’s Night Gallery.  Noted screenwriter
Joe Eszterhas (#30) was still working for the Plain Dealer when I
was a copy assistant there in the early 1970s.  I recall I did not
much like him.

Cleveland Heights native Debra Winger (#31) was Wonder Girl in The
New Adventures of Wonder Woman
.  From Shaker Heights, Fred Willard
(#32) was the President of the United States in episodes of Lois &
Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
and has done voice work in a
bunch of cartoons.

Martin Mull (#36) was Principal Willard in TV’s Sabrina the Teenage
and has other credits that fit this sub-list’s criteria.  I know
you’ll have a blast tracking them down and posting them to our
comments section.

Lakewood’s Teri Garr (#38) was the voice of Terry McGinnis’ mother
in Batman Beyond, Inga in Young Frankenstein and Roberta Lincoln in
the “Assignment Earth” episode of the original Star Trek.  Coming
in at #39, director and screenwriter Wes Craven is best known for
A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream.  Burgess Meredith delighted
viewers with his portrayal of the Penguin in the campy Batman show,
but he broke our hearts as poor Henry Bernis in the unforgettable
“Time Enough at Last” episode of The Twilight Zone.  He comes in at
#40 on the Plain Dealer list.

There are some very familiar names in the next batch of Cleveland
celebrities. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (#41) are the creators of
Superman.  My friend Harlan Ellison (#45) would be my pick for the
world’s greatest living author with the awards to prove it.  He’s
publishing book after book of late and there’s not a bad one in the
bunch.  Look for his 7 Against Chaos graphic novel, which will be
coming soon from DC Comics.

At #51 is Jim Backus, the voice of Mister Magoo.  Terrence Howard
(#56) played James Rhodes in the first Iron Man movie.

Cartoonists Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame (#61) and Tom
Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean, Crankshaft) made the list, but the Plain
Dealer jury overlooked a number of other worthy cartoonists.  Off
the top of my head, I would have include Brian Michael Bendis, Derf
Backderf and Ziggy creator Tom Wilson.

For me, this list starts thinning out once you get past my friend and
occasional employer Tom Batiuk (#64).  Les Roberts (#75) writes those
great Miles Jacovich novels, but there’s no comics connection or a
connection to fantasy/horror/science fiction. 

Molly Shannon (#82) played “Stage actor Joyce” in the 2003 American
movie.  When actress, singer, comedian Kaye Ballard (#88)
was a girl growing up in Cleveland, her family got bread delivered
to their house by my family’s Isabella Brothers Bakery.

Jack Weston (#92) was in two episodes of the original Twilight Zone
and also had roles in Thriller, Steve Canyon, Out There, Rod Brown
of the Rocket Rangers
and Captain Video and His Video Rangers.  The
wonderful Ray Wise (#94) has been in a great number of movies and
TV series that fit my criteria, including the forthcoming Big Ass
Spider, X-Men: First Class, Dollhouse, Reaper, Jeepers Creepers II,
Swamp Thing
and Robocop.

Robert Patrick (#98) appeared in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the
X-Files TV series.  His cartoon credits include voice work in Duck
Dodgers, Avatar: The Last Airbender
and Batman Beyond.

Jack Riley (#100) is one of the funniest actors on the planet and
is worth watching in just about anything.  He was the voice of Stu
Pickles in the Rugrats movies and TV series. 

That’s those members of the Cleveland Celebrities Top 100 that have
a connection to me, comic books, or fantasy/horror/science fiction.
I left out many of their credits because this is an “interactive”
edition of the bloggy thing.  You get to ferret out those missing
credits and send me comments about them.  I think you’ll have a lot
of fun doing this and it won’t ever occur to you that your Tipster
was just too lazy to do this himself.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella